Thinking back on my travels in South America from the perspective of ‘normal life’ in Melbourne leaves me searching for words. Our cultures seem so far from one another, yet also find themselves deeply connected by coffee. It’s crazy to think that the hustle and bustle of life in a big city can be so dependent on and interwoven with small farming communities on the other side of the world. I suppose this type of trade has always existed — but for now, it provides me with a new perspective.
As I entered Brazil, I was prepared to witness massive farms and big business. And that was exactly what I saw. Many of these farms owned an amount of land that could have engulfed some small countries. But what I also experienced, despite the large scale, was intimate communities coming together to produce quality. It was fascinating to see how well organised these farms were. Everything was handled with skill and traceability. Coffee lots were sectioned off, separated lots were only dried on certain patios and everything was cupped to ensure they were achieving what they intended to achieve. It left me thinking that much of the producing world could enlist in a ‘Coffee 101’ class from these communities and easily add some value to their business.
After traveling through Brazil, I made my way to Colombia. Having travelled there before, I knew roughly what I was getting into. An amazing landscape, open-hearted people and incredible coffee — but it was all definitely mixed up with a need to be cautious. It was so good to re-enter the Monserrate coffee community. This town is literally perched on the peak of a mountain and the coffee is as incredible as the landscape surrounding it. This year marked the re-launching of the Monserrate coffee competition and, man, did the community step up. The great news is that some of that coffee is headed our way! This Colombian visit also marked our introduction to the Asprounion coffee group. Hoping to be our next Direct Trade / Partnership coffee, this community truly met our standards for moving forward. Their altitude (1400 – 2000 meters) and rich soil combined with their communal passion contributed to some of the best coffees I tasted over my multi-week trip. Truly beautiful!
Above all, I feel grateful that I could enter these cultures and do business with some gifted people. It gave me a new perspective and renewed my passion to serve my Melbourne coffee community.